We couldn't make it down to 2014 ACC Kickoff this year but SB Nation/TomahawkNation's Bud Elliott was on hand to get some answers to questions we had for Syracuse Orange folks. Bud was part of the scrum that interviewed linebacker Cameron Lynch and he was able to ask the senior about his legacy, his sit-down with Floyd Little, his thoughts on the new uniforms and how important it is that SU football now has really good socks.
What are you more proud of, being named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List or being named one of the most 'freakish' athletes in the nation?
Both. I like both. One's not over the other. People in the locker room are like, 'Oh, the Freak's here.' I'm like, c'mon. The LOTT Award, you know, that was huge. It would be a major accomplishment.
In Floyd Little's book, 'Promises To Keep,' he talks about a heart-to-heart he had with you when you felt like you weren't big enough to compete. What do you remember about that time and how much of an influence was Floyd to you?
It was huge. We just sat down in his office and we talked about being undersized. When he was coming in, they thought he was undersized too. But he's one of the best running backs ever. So he gave me a list of guys he played with in the NFL that were undersized and were Pro Bowlers. Guys who are shorter have something to work for. I feel like I'm an overachiever cause I have the stigma of being short.
You've got the chance to go to a bowl game for the third-consecutive season. How important is it for you to see Syracuse get back to being a consistently-winning program?
That's huge, you know, cause we went to the ACC, put us in a position to play great competition. Elevate our game as a team and that helps with recruiting, too. The better recruits you get in, the better coaches in there, the better the bowl game. So you know, I think this year we have a great chance to go to a nice bowl game.
What was it like lining up across from a team like Florida State last year?
It was amazing. Even though it was a bad game on our behalf, it was a good being out there knowing what it feels like to play against the best in the nation. They won the national championship, the speed of the offensive line...that will elevate our game even more. The speed of the offensive line was unreal. We played great offense players...Teddy Bridgewater, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Matt Barkley. We've played against some great quarterbacks but we never played against a dominant offensive line. That's what they had. But that will elevate our game more. Now we know what the best is, so let's try to match that.
Which of the new uniforms is your favorite look?
The gray uniform. The gray uniform, hand's down. We're using it as a home jersey as well so I'm looking forward to wearing it.
What's different about Syracuse Football from the time you got here to now?
It's more up to date. When I first got here, we never had any Nike socks...we're starting to move it up, ramping it up. We have the three different uniforms. We're catching up with other teams. I enjoy it a lot. And the recruiting, it has also helped out when kids watch us on TV, they say "those jerseys are awesome." When we try on our jerseys or do a photo shoot, it's "those jerseys are awesome," so if actual players are saying that, imagine what kids at home are saying.
Who are the unknown guys on Syracuse's defense that everyone is going to know about by the end of the season?
You guys know Ritchy Desir. Ritchy Desir is gonna step up. It's his last year as well and he's always been battling for spots with people, like Jerami Wilkes last year. I think he's gonna step up this year. You've got Julian Whigham. Julian Whigham is maturing a lot. Last year...he had some highlights, he had the interceptions and big plays, so I think he'll mature a lot. And Marqez Hodge. We're depending on Marqez Hodge a lot in the middle. We're getting him up to speed. Those three guys will definitely be the guys that'll be, like, "Okay, these guys are gonna keep playing."
Do you read SU coverage and go on social media to see what fans are saying about you and the team?
I look at it every now and then. I look at Twitter, the fans will show love, they'll tweet at us, I enjoy that a lot. Syracuse fans are amazing. But my Dad and my Mom keep up with the blogs (Ed. Note: Hi, Mom & Dad!). I don't do it too much cause that'll stress me out, what people say. Cause it's not what...it's a distraction, really. If we look at that stuff, it'll just deter from what we're trying to do. So I let my Mom and my Dad handle all that.
There's "hard-nosed." There's "Lock The Doors." Are there any other Shaferisms we need to know about?
No, not really. He sticks to those, though. "Hardnosed." "Lock The Doors." "Lock the Dome up." I love that. "Lock the Gate." Cause I was talking to the guys from Wake Forest who were like, "It's so hot in there..." They cramp up in there. So we lock'm in our house and let's go to work.
When the season's over, what do you want your legacy at Syracuse to be?
I want to hopefully lead the team to a great bowl game. I want to leave a similar legacy to at my high school when I left. Any of our seniors could be in my spot right now and say the exact same thing. Represent our program in the same fashion. I feel like, this senior class, we're gonna go pretty far and do special things for the program.
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